Lettuce

Nuts and seeds: how to boost nutrition in everyday meals

Other than cutting up greens and hiding them in your standard dishes, how can you boost nutritional value in meals? The answer is nuts and seeds. The health and nutritional benefit far outweigh the additional calories and fat that they add (for those who are worried about those things).

I think every home should have a small version of a bulk section from the grocery store. Next time you are at a health food store, stock up on various nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Store them in mason jars for easy access, they look great in a pantry or on a countertop! Here are some of my favorites and the nutritional contribution they make:

Hemp seeds - packed with protein and a vitamin-mineral powerhouse, excellent balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, considered a "perfect protein" because it provides all 20 amino acids including the ones our bodies can't produce on their own. They improve digestion, balance hormones, and increase metabolism.

Raw walnuts - very high in antioxidants, vitamin E, and good fats. They improve brain health while reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Chia seeds - high in fiber, protein, calcium, omega-3s, minerals, antioxidants. They help reduce the risk of heart disease, are good for your bones, and aid in digestion. They should be taken in small quantities because they expand in liquid. Eating too many can cause constipation.

Goji berries - though a bit pricey, these little guys are considered a superfruit for a reason. They have been used medicinally for thousands of years and are packed with antioxidants, protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. A little goes a long way, just a sprinkle here and there can give your health a boost.

Raw pumpkin seeds - also known as 'pepitas'. High in zinc, iron, and other trace minerals, they are good for your heart, liver, immune system, prostate, and help to balance hormones.

Keep it interesting and try new things! Add a topping of your favorite nuts and seeds to all of your salads, tacos, rice bowls at dinner or your cereal, oatmeal, or eggs at breakfast... anything that you can think of!

Look for future blogs about sprouting and soaking of nuts & seeds.